French & US patrol provides hope for the future
2Lt. Agustín López Marín
First published in
SFOR Informer#154, December 19, 2002
From 1 to 7 Dec. 02, numerous units from SFOR took part
in the 27th Exercise Joint Resolve. The French Infantry Marine
Company (IMC), belonging to the Spanish-French Battle Group
(SPFRBG), came to the Multinational Division North (MND-N)
at Eagle Base in order to familiarise with the area and its
inhabitants by means of several joint patrols.
Bratunac - This Bosnian-Serb town, capital of the municipality
bordering with Serbia, was the main location for the joint
Reshuffling a way of life
On Dec. 3, at 09:30 in the US Camp Connor, US Staff Sgt. Brian
Evans and French 1Lt. Michel Ladan discussed the forthcoming
tasks, unit composition, route, restrictions, constraints,
axis of advance and spacing between vehicles. At 10:00, the
reconnaissance mission began. Sgt. Evans led the patrol, consisting
of one US Humvee, one French P4 Light Vehicle and one French
VAB (Armoured Personnel Carrier). Sgt. Evans knows this area
well. He often visits families in this area, recording information
about their concerns. In Velika Glogova, a hamlet situated
five kilometres from Bratunac, are some dispersed farms. "People
from small villages need our presence and help the most. They
need food supplies and water delivery, urgent medical treatment,
medicines, warm clothes, blankets, hearth wood, oil lamps,"
Evans said. One of the soldiers took notes. The Humvee carried
some boxes with articles of clothing, toys and school equipment
for children, which the US soldiers distributed. The French
soldiers did the same with some food. "We see a great
difference in the way of life between people from cities and
these from isolated farms. It's very hard for them to rebuild
their lives. The worst for them is to have to show their poverty.
Our detachments collect information and pass it on to Civil-Military
Co-operation (CIMIC) and provide security to the resettlements
of people returning to their pre-war homes," said Ladan
Interpreter's job crucial
An old woman invited the soldiers to take a coffee and said:
"We live without water, electricity, money for buying
food or seeds, and without the chance for our children to
attend the school. We are very grateful for your help. You
give us a light of hope and there is no way to say thank you
enough." It goes without saying that Interpreter's work
is crucial. Helena Golic has been an interpreter since 1996,
always working with US units. "It is an important role
for SFOR soldiers to maintain a relationship with the local
community. In the near future, political authorities in BiH
must try to develop local economy, to relieve the suffering
and improve the life of many people." There were of course
other tasks completed during this patrol; "We inform
people: if someone wants to give back some weapons, rockets,
grenades or ammunitions, he can hand it to SFOR troops or
local police. However, our main objective is that the residents
become aware of the real danger of minefields and booby-traps.
Nowadays, this is the worst and the most dangerous enemy,"
said US Sgt. Wade Moody.
Almost three hours later, the joint patrol arrived at Bratunac.
While four soldiers guarded the vehicles, the remainder patrolled
the town by foot. Evans and Golic talked with local population.
"The situation improved a lot, as a consequence of SFOR
presence," said Evans
French Sgt. Maxime Humbert is on his third peacekeeping mission
in BiH. According to him, French units perform similar tasks
to US ones, "patrolling the Inter Entity Boundary Line
and the Yugoslavian border, testing the de-mining works and
providing security to the humanitarian delivery." To
see that Bratunac people are accustomed to SFOR presence "fortifies
ourselves when these people thank our effort and work,"
Nations of SFOR: US,
SFOR at Work